Barbourfields floodlights fiasco costs Botswana US$23 000

BOTSWANA Football Association (BFA) has hit out at Zimbabwe Football Association  (Zifa) and the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), saying their lack of due diligence which led to a venue switch of Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, from Bulawayo to Harare, has cost the Botswana FA US$23 000.

“The shift has cost us over a quarter of a million and disrupted even plans for our next game,” BFA general manager-football operations, Monnakgotla Mojaki, said.

We are not happy with the way CAF and Zifa went about this. We have made an official complaint and protest to CAF.  It was more of mind games than a genuine change,” he added.

A Botswana publication, Mmegonline, reported that the Zebras intended to train in Francistown before boarding a bus to nearby Bulawayo, which is just 200km away from the second largest city.

The eleventh hour changes scuttled their plans and bit into their pockets.

“But now, the Zebras will have to fly to Harare via Johannesburg,” the publication said.

The stadium row has since turned into a dog’s breakfast, with BCC and Zifa openly trading barbs on social media.

Zifa told media last week Tuesday that the decision to move the match set for November 15 followed communication from BCC who stated that “they could guarantee the good working condition of floodlights at Barbourfields Stadium”.

BCC went on to tear into Zifa for insinuating that the council was responsible for the dereliction of duty, resulting in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Zimbabwe and Botswana being moved from Barbourfields Stadium.

“The City of Bulawayo did get communication from a representative from Zifa asking about the floodlights at Barbourfields Stadium, and they were duly advised through a letter after tests that the lights were in a good working condition,” Nesisa Mpofu, the BCC spokesperson, said.

Council, however, explained that there was need for Zifa to further engage the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company, taking into consideration the high power outages in the country. Zifa was also advised that as per norm, applicants intending to use the stadium should pay for floodlights in advance and equally meet the costs for the hiring of the stadium.

“The Barbourfields Stadium is reserved once all the necessary payments have been done. If no payment has been made, council considers that there is no booking of the stadium. In the instance of a booking made and payment done, council avails a standby generator that has the capacity to power the floodlights in the case of an electricity outage.  In this instance, the issue of the venue switch does not arise as no payments were made nor was there any booking made for the stadium.”

BCC on Thursday evening went on to post Barbourfields Stadium floodlights pictures on  their Twitter handle, attempting to put paid to Zifa’s claims that they had said they could not guarantee the good

working condition of the lights.

Zifa had earlier hitback at BCC over Barbourfields Stadium floodlights by leaking council’s letter to them, in which the local authority failed to guarantee that the floodlights actually work.